President: Celina Cossa
Av. Agostinho Neto, 714
Maputo, Mozambique
Tel. : 43 02 29
Fax: 43 04 59
P. O. Box 4488
Email: ugcapm@mail.tropical.co.mz

  1. THE GENERAL UNION OF CO-OPERATIVES (UGC) AND THE CO-OPERATIVE MOVEMENT
  2. THE FAMILY SECTOR
  3. THE STRATEGY FOR RURAL DEVELOPMENT
  4. UGC STAFF






1. THE GENERAL UNION OF CO-OPERATIVES (UGC) AND THE CO-OPERATIVE MOVEMENT

The UGC was formed by the agricultural cooperatives of Maputo in the early 80's as a service cooperative and support structure. It aimed at representing them both at internal and international level, providing services to its members in areas such as training, extension work, procurement, fund raising. Its action was limited to Maputo City belts, initially due to logistical reasons and later due to the civil war that surged in the districts around Maputo.

The cooperative movement which flourished under the UGC umbrella had since its inception called for a total autonomy as related to the State, the ruling Party and its mass organisations, drawing its main objectives and organisational model from the principles and practices of co-operativism.

The movement, made up almost entirely of unemployed women with low levels of schooling and no technical training at all, sought at its initial phase to provide its members with a food supplement and an additional income to the household. After following training courses under UGC, the members improved their technical capacity, level of organisation, management skills, the initial situation was reversed. The women became in many cases the mainstays of their families that are, as everywhere in Africa, extended groups.

Through UGC, the movement developed a strong social component providing the members and their families, besides increased income, with employment posts, literacy and professional training, primary health care and formal education - all the way from kindergartens to secondary schools and, beyond, to intermediate level technical training.

2. THE FAMILY SECTOR

By the end of the 80's, the cooperatives members decided to share the land owned by the cooperatives among them and started to develop individual production besides the collective production, initially in the agriculture sector and later in poultry raising as well. The objective was to make up for several inefficiencies of the collective mode of production, and the cooperatives became mostly service cooperatives specially in terms of common supplies of water and power, logistical support and extension mechanisms.

In poultry production where a credit scheme was involved, those members showing a high spirit of initiative and of concern of the cooperative affairs were selected to benefit of the individuel production plan. Naturally there were risks, but it constituted the departure point for the creation of small-scale rural entrepreneurs.

In the 90's, with the approval of its associates, UGC started to extend this type of support to disadvantaged groups of people living in underprivileged areas such as the homeless, widows, returnees, the unemployed. These groups were deprived of any economic activities that would generate employment and income, lacking inevitably the minimum of social provisions such as schools, health posts, drinking water, transport, etc.

Today, with the support of UGC, there are already 347 families benefiting of this programme with an installed capacity of producing 203,570 chickens per cycle. The effective production depends on inputs and on credit available. Nevertheless the importance and extent of this programme can only be evaluated if one takes into consid«ration that it deals at family level, providing employment and increased income and certainly an improved diet to the household.

It is only seeing "in loco" that one can understand how such programmes can transform in a radical way the lives of entire communities that, though living few kilom”tres from the city, were living in absolute poverty. A senior official of an international coop«ration agency that funded a project to support the family sector visited the area before and after the implementation of the project. His comment: "hens brought civilisation to this area".

3. THE STRATEGY FOR RURAL DEVELOPMENT

During almost tw o decades, UGC has refined a methodology of development of rural communities that has proved effective within the limits of Maputo City sub-urban and peri-urban areas. Beyond these limits, the cost effectiveness of the programmes increases due to logistical costs and coordination difficulties.

In no way can one consider dealing with a finished model of development nor it seems replicable. It has evoived from its own specific perception and in some aspects it is quite different from the starting point.

This methodology is based on a set of principles and tools that were developed through a process of continuons «valuation of the concrete results achieved and of systematic discussion with the target groups. Some of the principles and tools are described below:

a) Priority to Wornen

Being UGC an organisation whose membership are 95% women, naturally gender issues acquired, since its inception, a strong importance aside from the fashions and pressures of the donor community.

Women hold ail senior posts in the cooperatives and the zone unions, the same happening in the UGC. Therefore, leadership training is an important programme as it allows women to become more and more able to perform the tasks they are assigned to.

Due to the same fact, UGC involved itself since the first hour in activities of social nature such as Education and Health: aduit literacy courses were given, kindergartens were created to allow the mothers to participate with greater diligence and security in ail tasks, mother-child health care programmes were established.

b) Long Term Commitment

The commitment of UGC towards the coop«rative members and other beneficiaries, be them individuels or communities, has never been an isolated act or a project link, the kind of "hit and run" type. The support extended and the projects being developed are always on a long-term perspective.

For this reason UGC attaches a great importance to the question of sustainability of its activities and projects that are almost never exclusively of economical or of social nature.

This has given to the beneficiaries a sense of security not only in the productive activities in which they are involved, but also in what concerns family matters.

c) Rural extension

The rural extension system is rather complex as it invoives several Departments within UGC such as Training, Credit, operational departments - agriculture, animal husbandry, worksriops, etc. - and requires therefore a strong coordination and follow-up actions. It is in fact a continuation of the training courses.

Roving brigades specialised in severai fields - agriculture, poultry production, coop«rative dynamisation, technical assistance (maintenance and repairs of equipment) - develop the extension programmes.

The brigades not only monitor the practical implementation of the techniques transmitted during the training as they advise the beneficiaries and identify needs and problems - logistical inefficiencies, epidemics, management errors, improper use of equipment, social conflicts and abuse of power, etc.

Besides the substantiel support extended in diff«rent fields, the brigades constitute an excellent means of communication and information exchange between the grassroots and Management.

d) The Credit System

One of the main beams of the relationship between UGC and the co- operatives and the family sector is the credit system for productive activities. The system has its highest level in poultry raising where it has more relevance in insuring the production continuity. With the necessary adaptations the system is also applicable in other fields of activities.

In poultry production, the initial credit is an investment loan. When this is granted, UGC builds the poultry house and other infrastructures (bore holes, wells, pumps) and it supplies the equipment required - feeders, drinkers, etc. - most of which is produced in a specialised cooperative. The loan is granted without any collateral and its repayment including interest in instalments take 6 to 7 years.

After the basic training of the beneficiaries in poultry raising techniques and elementary rules of business management, UGC provides credit in kind in the form of the necessary production inputs - day old chicks, feed, poultry extension and veterinary assistance (including vaccines and medication), etc. At the end of the production cycle (6 weeks), the commercialisation brigades collect the birds and send them either to the abattoir or to the live bird market.

Everything is properly recorded and once the birds are sold, the accounts are done. The amount of the credit for production is retained and of the gross profits (the diff«rence between sales revenues and production costs), 50% are directed for repayment of the investment loan and the remaining 50% are handed to the producer. In case of losses are registered for justifiable reasons, UGC usually offers refinancing.

The following table gives summarises the credit operations done in recent years-.


1995 1996 1997 1998
Number of credit operations 1086 1322 1462 1486
Number of broilers produced 1,485,273 1,792,583 2,197,328 2,272,041
Sales (*) 28,703,565 51,869,015 71,509,344 72,134,815
Gross profit 3,428,980 3,012,105 1,307,356 3,623,222
Reimbursement of
Investment loans (*)
1,714,490 1,506,052 653,678 1,611,110
Net income distributed (*) 1,714,490 1,506,052 653,678 1,611,110
Interest charged (*) 700,087 1,265,098 1,635,233 1,631,735

(*) In thousand of Meticais. The exchange rates has varied during these years. The present rate (6/4/99) is 12,433 MT/USD.

e) Associativism

Born in the era of collectivisme UGC knew how to deny its excesses, struggling for the independence of the movement and preserving the essence of co-operativism.

Since UGC always valued and respected the individuel, it anticipated the changes to come with the implementation of the Economic Recovery Programme, enhancing the individuel effort and the initiative and entrepreneurial capacity of its members - UGC had already fostered change in the relationship of production and distribution of results among the agrarian cooperatives by the end of the 80's.

The stimulation of the family sector represents another decisive step in this direction, firstly among the coop«rative members and then, beyond the relatively large group of people, to the communities.

However, the socialisation of the benefits of UGC activities continues to be an omnipresent factor and the fact that the social and economic aspects are complementary imply a collective management. The social pressure within the organised groups or communities constitutes an important factor in the success of the credit system, the mainstay of nearly all initiatives of economic nature.

Thus, wherever there are organised cooperatives and peasants associations, support is granted to their members- where there are no such organisations, the peasants are encouraged and assisted to establish them as a prerequisite for the mat«rialisation of support. Assistance includes training in associativism, in leadership and participation, in production organisation and techniques, etc. besides integrating them in the circuit of the extension teams.

f) Emphasis on Production

The cooperatives were born as production cooperatives. During the most critical periods of the 80's the cooperatives were the main suppliera of vegetables and meat in greater Maputo (having reached a peak of 6,000 tons of pork meat and 4,650 tons of vegetables in one single year). Only those who do not remember the times when cabbage was nearly the only basic staple available can ignore the contribution that the cooperatives made in the struggle for survival and dignity.

The cooperatives evoived to different fields of production. Without disregarding the vegetable production and the traditional rain fed agriculture, the cooperatives are today involved in poultry raising, in fruit, shade trees, flowers and ornemental plants production, in pottery, in industriel processing, etc.

Production is therefore the main activity, the point of departure and the point of arrival. The economic projects happen because of the engagement in productive activities or they arise naturally to compl«ment the social projects, in many cases providing them with a base of sustainability.

The cooperatives have a role to play in the supply of the internal market, in the substitution of imported products, and for this it is clear that there should be increased productivity and increased quality of products in order to be comp«titive at internal level, specially because it is foreseen to start producing for export.

To this effect, without disregarding the efforts for a greater and more effective protection of the national production, big investments were made in equipment, in training and in technical assistance, with the view to raise production, lower costs, improve quality and level of the products as well as their pr«sentation.

The following tables gives the «volution of the installed capacity in terms of area (sq.m.) in what concerns poultry production, the main production activity of UGC, the associated cooperatives and the family sector and the results achieved-

INSTALLED CAPACITY

SECTOR 1995 1996 1997 1998
UGC 19,000 19,410 20,710 21,800
COOPIS 22,856 23,400 27,800 30,500
FAMILY SECTOR 6,600 10,600 13,850 18,350
TOTAL 48,456 53,410 62,360 70,650
% of annual increase 9.0 10.2 16.7 13.3

POULTRY PRODUCTION


1996 1997 1998
Broiler day-old-chicks (unies) 2,515,771 1,998,009 2,054,274
Layer day-old-chicks (units) 103,328 40,420 59,628
Broilers (unies) 1,792,580 2,197,428 2,272,041
Table eggs (dozen) 205,200 323,847 102,000
Frozen chicken (tons) 1,146 1,110 1,350
Feed (tons) 10,300 12,338 9,973

PRESENT INSTALLED CAPACITY IN OTHER SECTORS

DESCRIPTION NUMBER AREA (sq.m.)
Broiler breeder laying unit 27,600 birds 9,200
Broiler breeder rearing unit 23,500 birds 4,700
Layers 70,000 bird 12,720
Hatcheries (**) 428,144 eggs
Feed mill 14,400 tons
Abattoir (***) 1,000 birds/hour

(*) The density of number of birds/sq.m. is deliberately kept low in order to prevent losses due to heat.

(**) In one of the hatcheries there is enough space to install 4 new machines for a total of 344,000 eggs, meaning an expansion to a total capacity of incubation of 686,144 eggs. This would allow the production of 285,000 day-old-chicks per week, that is 14,820,000 per year.

(***) The abattoir comprises also a water treatment unit and a rendering plant. For this production, UGC imports broiler parent stock (D.o.c.'s), veterinary drugs (vaccines, medicines and disinfectants) and feed raw materials.

g) Importance of the Social Factor

As mentioned before, UGC is an organisation of women, naturally managed by women, and for this reason gender issues have always been an essentiel point of reference in the activities of UGC.

This is why the social action refers to the female condition, to maternit«, to the health and «ducation of children, to the values of the family and the cohesion of the social group.

The growing involvement with communities and with social groups of disadvantaged people, give more and more a clear perception of the rightness of the principle that any support action should respect these social values.

h) Valuing the Human Capital

Most of what has been said stresses the importance of this factor in philosophy and action of UGC.

An enormous effort has been and is still being made in this sense - at the level of the present generation in actions with a view of not only improving the productive capacity, management skills, communication, interaction, etc. as well as of increasing the general knowledge and the ability to relate with the society and the world.

At the level of the coming generation, besides the family security and stability, the comfort and stimulus that the almost universel access to kindergartens and to some health care represents, UGC runs junior high schools and an intermediate level commercial instituts where sons and daughters of co- operatives members are enrolled.

These students constitute the main source of recruitment of staff for the administrative and management tasks. Others receive grants and continue studying at higher level. And above all, UGC has succeeded in assuring the return to the community of a high percentage of the students who finish their studies either in general «ducation or in the commercial instituts.

The most significant success is perhaps the fact that several of UGC senior management posts are held today by the sons and daughters of coop«rative members. They were elected during the last General Assembly of the organisation in July 1997 and they were trained since childhood within the scope of this system.

UGC STAFF

1. University level cadres: 7 (2 veterinarian doctors, 1 sociologist, 2 accountants, 2 electro-tecnicians, 1 project consultant);
2. Medium level cadres: 12 (4 poultry techniciens, 2 electriciens, 4 hydraulics techniciens, 1 draftsman, 1 civil works foreman);
3. Poultry extensionists-. 58;
4. Administration: 20;
5. Specialised workers: 55;
6. Labour: 1100.

Maputo, April 1999.